Interviews : Shawn Drover (Megadeth)
Shawn Drover – Megadeth
Megadeth have been at the forefront of the thrash metal movement for nearly 30 years and there doesn’t seem to be any sign of giving up, yet. As we reach the eve of Megadeth’s thirteenth album, ironically called, ‘Th1rt3en’. Metal Obsession sat down with Megadeth’s drummer, Shawn Drover to discuss the band’s latest musical escapade.
We delve into the personal psyche of Shawn Drover to unravel his personal views towards the political hierarchy and social disorder, ever so abundant and constantly fuelling the fire of Megadeth’s poignant lyrics…plus we talk about the new album as well.
Metal Obsession: Hey Shawn. How are you?
Shawn Drover: (puts on a typical Australian accent) Good! How you doin’, mate!
MO: [laughs] Not to bad thanks, mate! How’s Dave Mustaine been after the surgery. I take it he’s recovered well?
SD: You know, he’s recovered really well. Everything went really well and the surgery was a complete success. You know, he just needs time to heal. It takes time to heal.
He needs to rest up before our South American tour in November. He really needed to have it done. He was in a lot of pain for the last several shows that we did during the Mayhem tour and at the Yankee stadium as well. It sucks seeing him in pain, but he’s a real trooper.
As soon as we were done with Yankee stadium we flew right back home and ran him to the doctor and got the results. Now we’re really happy that he did that.
SD: Yeah man! We’re pretty psyched about the record. I think it turned out very well. We recorded it in record timing…nine weeks! I mean that was a very short period of time, but the funny thing was everything went so smoothly and so easily that we got it done without any effort. [laughs] I mean it wasn’t like we were thinking “Oh my god! Will never get this done”.
It just seemed very painless and a very enjoyable process for us to do this record. I personally think it turned out great. We are really excited about doing a world tour for ‘Th1rt3en’ and support it as much as possible. We can’t wait for the fans to hear it!
MO: As this is Megadeth’s thirteenth album. Were there any bizarre moments throughout the recording process due to the superstitious nature of the number thirteen?
SD: It’s funny. I did my drums on the record first, so I was there for about two and half, three weeks. Nothing weird happened with reference to the number thirteen, but after I left that’s when this whole weird thing started to happen. The funny thing was the title of the record, the working title was ‘Thirteen, until we came up with something else because this is our thirteenth record, you know what I mean?
It was just a working title at the time but after I left, Dave started to see all this stuff and it all had to do with the number thirteen. None of it was really that bad, just odd coincidences and just odd things happening with the number thirteen. Dave then started to say “Why don’t we just call the new record Thirteen” and we all thought “Yeah! That would be a cool idea”.
There were a couple of bizarre things which happened in the studio with the number thirteen and I guess Dave just kinda went with it.
MO: I take it the transition from Andy Sneap to Johnny K was quite an easy one?
SD: It was. It was very easy. Both producers are a thrill to work with and are just great people. You know, Andy is a very good friend of mine and we’ve known each other for quite sometime now and he’s a fantastic producer. Andy wasn’t really available for the time frame we had. We had a very limited time frame, as I mentioned before about nine weeks from the beginning to the end of this record.
We thought why don’t we do something different this time. Why don’t we get in a new producer. Johnny K’s name came up and Dave had a couple of conversations with him in the past or did something with him in the past. So we decided to go with him and it worked out great. He’s a great guy and a great producer. I think the results will speak for themselves. Sonically it sounds great and it was a joy to work on.
It’s always good to have a producer who has ideas as well instead of a “knob twister”, you know what I mean? You are hiring a producer so you can bounce ideas off each other and give guidance. He was very good at that.
MO: There seems to be a common ground between Johnny K and Megadeth after listening to the album last night. A certain vision at least…
SD: He really had that right from the get go. I was in there first as I said before, but Dave and I are usually in the studio most of the time. Right away we all seemed to hit it off. There is always that concern when you get someone new and you think to yourself “Is this the right choice?”.
Ultimately we know what we want, both sonically and musically, we knew what we were shooting for and he was on the same path immediately. I’ve actually never had a bad experience with a producer, but I’m sure its happened in the past to someone else when the band and the producer don’t get along as well as they’d hoped or may not have the same vision. Luckily for us we always seem to get great producers and I think it turned out really well.
MO: ‘Th1rt3en’ seems to follow the same ideology as ‘Endgame’ with its lyrics heavily seeded in politics, corruption and social turmoil…
SD: Social turmoil. I like that! [laughs]
MO: [laughs]…essentially the typical Megadeth lyrics you’d hear nowadays. I guess it’s become easier in recent years to write more poignant lyrics as social disorder is never ending?
SD: I would say that’s an accurate assumption. I mean look at what’s going on in the world right now. Its so easy to write heavy metal songs. All you have to do is turn on Fox News or CNN and it’s right there!
That’s not to say we actually did that, but Dave is very current and keen on world events and what’s going on with a lot of things, politically and socially. He’s a very worldly person and watches that stuff all the time. You know, he’s a very intelligent lyricist, so he puts his twist on everything. I mean he’ll watch something on TV or read a book and put his take on it and make it poignant.
But again, as you suggested there is so much crap going on in the world right now, economically and politically speaking. There are so many things which are going on which aren’t so great, so its quite easy to write how we personally feel towards this stuff.
MO: Do you and the others members in Megadeth all share the same feelings towards these topics?
SD: Yes and no. It depends what the subject matter is and how I feel towards it. Obviously I agree with some of the subjects we touch on, we share the same vision or opinions on certain things, but I’m not as involved as Dave is. I don’t turn on Fox News every morning and watch it for several hours. I’m just not that kind of guy. It would drive me mad after awhile from all the negativity and the amount of crap. After awhile your like “Jesus!”. I choose to watch things that are a little more light on TV, you know. I try and laugh about life and not take it to seriously.
I try not to get to caught up in the turmoil of the world….shall we say. But I am aware of a lot of it. I’m very aware of it but I don’t delve to deep into it, unless its something which effects you so much, you know what I mean. Like the whole 9/11 thing. You have to be on top of something that catastrophic. Even what happened in Japan recently. Other than that, I don’t keep on top of world events as much as Dave. But you know…it’s my choice.
MO: Do you see these certain events in society as a sign of the times, or do you believe that there is something threatening our existence and the world is literally going to shit?
SD: I don’t know. I don’t believe the world is going to hell in a hand basket. Bad things have happened in the past. We’ve had World War I, World War II and all the major changes and effects throughout history. No matter what we always seem to rebounded back from it. I think the things that are going on in the world right now, things like that have been happening for many years now.
I try not to let that effect my personal life to much. I mean I don’t think the world is going to shit as you suggested. I think there are a lot of good things that happen in this world as well. At the end of the day you got to take the good with the bad. Unfortunately there is quite a bit of bad stuff at the moment which is kind of a drag.
I mean look at the all damage Hurricane Irene caused when the levy broke, the tsunami in Japan…there have been so many catastrophic events which have just been through mother nature. Humans didn’t do that, mother nature did! A lot of bad things have happened, but we are pretty resilient the human race so somehow we seem to survive and prosper despite all the crap.
This interview has sure turned negative, hasn’t it? [laughs]
You know we have this great new record out called, ‘Th1rt3en’. [sarcasm]
MO: [laughs] I guess a lot of people only see the negative due to the amount of pain and fear that is being conditioned into society through controlled media and so forth. But as you said there is a lot of good out there too!
SD: There is! There is a ton of good stuff out there but unfortunately with the way the human race is now in comparison with the internet and certain media, a lot of people mainly focus on the negative, you know what I mean?
The stuff you see on the news is always the same. If a movie star gets caught doing something stupid they’ll put that on Entertainment Tonight instead of the twenty things that person did good last week. To them that’s not news worthy. It only seems news worthy when they get caught drunk at 4am coming out of a party or something trivial or stupid like that.
It’s a major drag when the internet and media in general in focused in the negative, instead of more positive things. Again…whatever! It doesn’t effect my life personally.
MO: Well, one of many good things to look forward on this planet is the new Megadeth album, ‘Th1rt3en’. Don’t you just love my subtle segway. [laughs] Do you ever feel anxious or threatened by certain fan reactions whenever releasing new material?
SD: No, not at all! Because I know its a good record and at the end of the day you can’t…first of all you can’t please everyone, secondly I wouldn’t want to please everyone because that would be boring. I mean we have our fans who are fantastic. We have a fantastic fan base. Ultimately though some people will say “Oh! It’s not as heavy as ‘Killing is my Business”, or not as fast as that song or this song.
That’s just the way people react and then they’ll go post it on the internet somewhere and be all pissed off. I don’t worry about that kind of thing because there is so many fans who we have, who appreciate us and don’t go out of their way and do all those silly things. If anything, they go out of their way to contact us and tell us how much they love our music.
Like what we were talking about before I choose to kinda go with the positives rather then the people who bitch about everything and say “its not this and its not that”…the people who want us to sound like we did in the past. For us, you can’t live the past. I mean we all respect what we have done in the past and its all fine and dandy. But ultimately for us we want to keep moving forward and keep writing music. We celebrate our past but we want to move forward as well.
MO: Having said that could you explain the inclusion of the songs ‘Millennium of the Blind’ and ‘New World Order’ on the new album, as they are relatively old songs?
SD: That’s the ironic thing about what we were just talking about. I’m actually the guy who brought up the idea to Dave to include the songs. Because when the songs were recorded initially they were just demo’s and they were included on the Youthanasia remix/remaster. You know, Dave actually initially brought up the idea but I was the guy who really pushed for it because I feel those songs are fantastic. I really think both songs are great. My thing was if we could re-record these songs with modern day studio quality and give it 100% they would sound fantastic.
‘Millennium of the Blind’ wasn’t necessarily a completed song, more of a demo. We have no refined that song and if you listen to it on the new record compared to the old demo version. This new version is actually longer, we’ve changed some things and added a couple of new things as well. By far its not the same tune. In essence its the same tune, but heavily modified and extended.
The bottom line for me though was that both of the songs are great songs and don’t really care if the song was written yesterday or twenty five years ago. These songs are good songs. I really pushed for this quite hard every time the conversation came up with what we should record or what we should work on. I really tried to push to get those two songs and ultimately I got my own grubby little way.
But you have to realise that Dave was the one who initially started the conversation, but I really pushed for it hard.
MO: This will be Megadeth’s final release with Roadrunner Records. Has there been much discussion whether Megadeth will sign with a new label or perhaps just release albums independently in the future?
SD: The conversation hasn’t really come up. Yes, under the current contract this is our last record with Roadrunner Records. That’s not to say will resign, but we haven’t really had the conversation, you know.
That’s something more to do on Dave’s side of things, the business side of things. I’m not part of that as much as he is, obviously. I am apart of the conversation, but ultimately that’s something he’ll work out with management and the record label. But we aren’t even thinking or talking about that stuff right now. We are more interested in the new album and excited to get it out.
Roadrunner Records is extremely excited about the record and I think really good things are going to happen. We aren’t even focusing on labels or anything like that at the moment, but it will come up in a couple of years.That’s a long winded answer to just say, I don’t know. [laughs] I obviously don’t know. I do think that Roadrunner are a great label, but I guess we will see what happens.
MO: Have fans received the new song, ‘Public Enemy. No 1’ well on the current Big 4 and Mayhem tour?
SD: We don’t want to give to much away until the album comes out, but the reaction has been quite good actually. People were able to watch the song on Youtube. Some people having watched the live clips on Youtube were able to sing the song which was really cool.
Some only heard it for the first time when they were at the gig and they seemed to dig it as well. We look forward to playing more songs from the new record once we get this world tour under way.
MO: I know its asking much, but is there a possibility of the Big 4 making its way to Australia?
SD:Nothing is impossible. The short winded answer is…I don’t know. [laughs] The last show we did, as you know was Yankee stadium and I haven’t heard any more talk if we will be doing any more shows with the Big 4. There are endless opportunities of where it can go next like Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South America and Canada. If we can easily play two shows in America, we could definitely play fifty shows everywhere else.
Umm..I just don’t really have an answer I can give you because I don’t know. Obviously I’m hopeful we will do more shows and play more territories like Australia, as we have such a great fan base in Australia. Well, all the bands on the Big 4 do down there. It would certainly be a no brainier in my opinion. I just don’t know yet.
MO: Speaking of the Big 4. September 27th, 2011 marked the 25th anniversary of Cliff Burton’s death in Metallica. Is there a moment you perhaps fondly remember about Cliff Burton in Metallica. I assume you must have seen them play during the early years?
SD: You know its funny. I grew up in Montreal, Canada and I don’t recall seeing Metallica. I know that Metallica did play in Canada when I was growing up, but I never seen them at the time with Cliff. Obviously I was a fan from a very early age. I remember vividly going to a heavy metal store in Montreal and buying ‘Kill Em’ All’.
As soon as that came out I heard a song on a show called “The Metal File” in Montreal which played all the new releases of young bands at the time. I heard a couple of tracks from Metallica’s debut album and went out the next day and bought the album. At that time it was the fastest thing I’d ever heard in my life and hearing songs like ‘Metal Militia’ and ‘The Four Horseman’ was amazing.
I was a big Metallica fan right off the bat. I think they were a fantastic band at the time and still do to this day. Unfortunately, I never got to see Cliff Burton perform when he was alive which is a real drag, but who would have ever thought something that severe would have happened anyway. It’s definitely a tragic loss, but I wish I got the opportunity to see Cliff when he was still alive, but sadly never did.
MO: Shawn, its been a pleasure. Any famous last words?
SD: Buy our new record. Don’t steal it!
Megadeth’s latest magnum opus will be on store shelves starting from October 28th in Australia via Roadrunner Records and all leading music outlets. You can claim a special edition bundle of the new album via the Megadeth official website for a measly $30 which will be released on November 1st.
For more information on anything Megadeth related, head on over to Roadrunner Records Australia.